I remember the day when Eric texted me the following date: “March 1st, 2019.”
My response was: “Is that the day you’re quitting your job?”
His response was: “Yes.”
His reasoning was that he would turn 50 on February 3rd, 2019. He had been working both a full-time consulting manager position for a major tech company…and his own thriving and growing small business, also full-time. No one could work two full-time jobs and squeeze in tee-times a few times per week quite like my husband.
He was at that point in his business’ growth where he had to “shit or get off the pot” professionally. The only way his business would grow is if he went ahead and took the leap from the safety net of his “real job,” which provided his and our girls’ health care and a whole host of other benefits we come to rely upon as families.
By March 1st, 2019, both girls would be out of college and the financial pressure cooker of parenthood would ease a bit, so he felt like he could make a radical professional decision for his life…for our life. He even indicated that he might also sell his business at that time…and he and I could “go someplace else and do something else altogether.”
We talked about selling everything and going to St. Croix to buy a beach bar, just to see if we’d like it. I figured that if we didn’t or got sick of it, we could do it for a while and move back to the mainland again. We were going to be empty nesters relatively young compared to our peers, so why not? We even looked at the cost of such little beach bars and restaurants in the Virgin Islands. We’d watch a TV show about people who left the mainland and moved to an island to work and live for a change. Since we were married in St. Thomas, the Virgin Islands always meant something special to us.
Eric would have turned 50 on Super Bowl Sunday, February 3rd, as his beloved Patriots take the field – yet again – without him here to wear his Tom Brady jersey and set up his Patriots shrine in front the TV. He would have walked around the house all day in the jersey, prepping some fish and chips in his deep fryer and making me some buffalo chicken strips.
We might have even found a way to get to the Super Bowl because…who am I kidding? It was his 50thafter all. No time like the present…right? Maybe we would’ve flown down to Florida to watch the big game with his sisters and parents…like we did for his 46th birthday…the last time he saw the Patriots win the Super Bowl.
When I think about Eric turning 50, I think about all the plans we had together and talks about that specific milestone – the one that never came for him. When I think about what 50 would have looked like for him, what February 3rd, 2019 would have been as a couple and family and for him as an individual, I think about how much we never got to have that we have, in fact, lost. He lost his very life…and I lost my way.
I’ve remained in some relative state of “lost” for 3 years now. 3 years ago today, February 2nd…the day before his 47th birthday… Eric and I were told the news: he had colon cancer. Not long after that, we were told he was terminal. All the dreams and plans of our impending and long anticipated empty nest years went out the window…as we both tried to contort our brains around living and doing “now” because we didn’t know when “now” for him – and us – would be over.
If Eric’s story tells the living one thing, it tells us to do things now, at least as much of “now” that you can handle. If you can go leave the job you’re tired of doing to do the island beach bar thing “now”…go do it. If you can manage the trip to the Super Bowl “now”…go do it. If you can start to get your life straightened out or your marriage fixed “now”…go do it.
Your time here is not promised.
And as hard as this is for me to say…go Pats…and that was just for you.
Happy 47 + 3, E.